The Lords of Salem Review

Monster Mary

Rob Zombie has really outdone himself with The Lords of Salem.  The film plays like a throwback to the psychedelic satanic Horror Movies of the early 70s.  The movie starts out with a slow build getting to know the lead character, Heidi.  Heidi, played by Sherri Moon Zombie, is a recovering addict that works for the local radio station as a DJ for a popular late night radio show.  She lives in Salem, Massachusetts, which is famous for its witch trials during the 1600s.

When Heidi arrives at the radio station for her show she receives a demo record from a band called The Lords.  Thinking the album must be from a new and upcoming band, the DJs play it on the show.  When the sound goes out over the radio, many local women go into a trance, very much like when the tape is played in Evil Dead!  Heidi has severe headaches when the album is played and from that point on starts having hallucinations.  There are many flashbacks to the 1600s, when a coven of witches were having their Sabbath or Black Mass, dancing around a fire nude, praying to Satan, and playing music.  The local Salem Authorities catch all the witches and put them on trial. Found guilty of witchcraft, they are burned alive at the stake.  While dying, the leader of the coven curses her accuser, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and all of his ancestors.

Heidi lives in a historic building with an older lady that lives in the apartment below her.  She invites Heidi for tea with her friends, but right away you can tell the older ladies have something to hide.  Heidi starts a slow decent into madness after hearing the Lords of Salem album again.  And that’s when we get the flashbacks to the ancient evil witches and their strange satanic rituals.

Sherri Moon Zombie does her best acting to date, but she is still no match for the older scream queens that play the witches…Dee Wallace, Patricia Quinn, Judy Geeson, and Meg Foster steal all the scenes.  Meg Foster and Dee Wallace especially shine in their roles.   One of things I like about Rob Zombie is that he casts a lot of familiar faces from the horror genre and Lords of Salem was no exception.

Lords of Salem has a real art-house artistic feel to it, which Zombie’s previous films did not have.  There are several shots that remind me of classic Argento films like Suspiria.  The use of colourful architecture and background scenery is almost like another character in the film.  The movie was visually stunning and it owes a lot of its influences to classic Horror films like The Devils, The Sentinel, Eraserhead and The Shining.  The only part of the film I was not all that keen on was the psychedelic ending.  It just seemed out of context, but maybe I will like it better on a second viewing.  It also had way too many gratuitous shots of Sherri Moon’s backside which was a little distracting from the storyline in my opinion.  Unfortunately, I don’t think Lords of Salem will appeal to the general public and will probably not get a wide release the way his previous films did.

In the end, I think this movie will get very split reviews from horror fans.  If you can appreciate an art-house independent horror film you will enjoy it.  If you prefer a grindhouse style gory action movie, you will hate it.  I am sure this movie will surprise and divide Rob Zombie fans.  Up until now, Zombie has earned a very well-deserved reputation for films that push the limits of good taste.  For the most part I have enjoyed most of his films (yes, even Halloween 2!) For me, Lords of Salem showed that he is not a one trick pony when it comes to his writing and I really appreciate that.  I highly recommend you go and see it when it comes out and form your own opinion about it.

3.5 / 5 stars     


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      1. Sweet 'n' Tender September 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm

        I love Rob Zombie’s films… his very REAL and gritty take on the 2 Halloween movies were fantastic and violent… no cheesy or goofy Michael Myers, just a scary SOB..
        I can’t wait to see this film, did you see it a a festival or something? Anyway, nice to hear of someone else digging his take on his Halloween films.

        • DirtyGirl September 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm

          I saw at the premeir in toronto for TIFF.

        • Dave Zendano September 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm

          Would you say that this is more like.HO1KCorpses than his other films? That was by far my favorite.

        • DirtyGirl September 21, 2012 at 9:51 pm

          It’s not like any of his previous films…

      2. Tiago Almeida November 30, 2012 at 6:55 am

        Cant wait to watch it.

        Most people didn’t get Halloween II. It’s about the inner evil, a descend into madness.It’s a hell of a good counter part to the first one. Specially the second cut.
        His first 2 movies are perfect.
        the good thing about good directors is that they take you places you didnt expect.

      3. chubungie December 4, 2012 at 7:00 pm

        Just watched the trailer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEV-I_JWwqU) and after reading this review, this flick does seem like it’s going to be different than the Zombie we’ve experienced so far.

      4. BojoRyder April 24, 2013 at 2:19 pm

        If you like crap, by all means, you’ll love Lords of Salem. It’s awful and this review is obviously meant to kiss arse rather than be honest.

        • Herner Klenthur April 24, 2013 at 11:46 pm

          That is complete bullshit. I hate to be nasty but Lords of Salem has NO friends on this site. They threatened us with lawyers for posting about their film so your claim that we are ‘catering’ to them just makes my blood boil.

          I BANNED all Lords of Salem content on our site after that threat and only made an exemption on this review because shes a great writer and a respected member of our team. Accusing her or my site of bias is garbage.Again I am not normally this hostile and I apologize for being nasty but you are so off base in the comment it got me worked up

      5. Tiago Almeida April 24, 2013 at 3:24 pm

        Just watched it, and I think it is very, very good. I am still not sure if I like it better than his previous movies, but it is very good, and like you said, very different.
        I think Sheri is very hot, but even I felt weird at how many times the guy shows his wife’s butt in the movie, hehe, but wont complain about that..
        The soundtrack and sound effects are very good. Very different. He overuses the drones in a good way to set the mood. About visuals, I think you said it all. I felt David Lynch at some times.
        I felt weird about the ending. He could have made a blood bath, or at least some gore, instead he chose subtlety, very weird choice coming from Zombie. But can’t say it wasn’t a nice ending.
        The plot is ok. Basic H.P. Lovecraft stuff, but put in a brave different way.

      6. floridapossum April 25, 2013 at 8:34 pm

        I watched it, but I’m still not sure if I liked it or not.

      7. floridapossum April 25, 2013 at 8:42 pm

        If they’re upset about us posting about the film, I guess they will be horrified that the screener is all over the internet. LOL

      8. K Hutch (@72nivek) April 26, 2013 at 2:57 am

        I really liked this, but it wasnt any like I was expecting. You hear RZ and Salem witches and a certain type of movie jumps into your head. I, in the main, agree with DirtyGirls review (except SMZ’s arse but I am a guy:)). The decent into maddness is compelling and the horror is mind based, not so much “bang here it is”. I think there could have been more exploration of the “3 witches down stairs” and the “No.5 appartment” could have been used better (especially as it is the main focus of the building). I think this will be one movie where the DVD sales will be huge as people will need to watch it 2 or 3 times to get the true power of it.

      9. Randall Mittman April 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm

        This is Rob Zombies worst movie yet…………He tried to tell you a story in 90 minutes that should have taken 180. No area of the story was explained well, there was allot of things that litterally had nothing to do with the story at the end ( Her going into room 5 to hold her hands up to a red cross?) but it was a dream? IDK….. If you were expecting a scary, bloody, horrific Zombie movie, this isnt it. Again im not saying the story was not good, im saying he tried to tell in such a small time frame you never fully get on the same level as the main character, and if you paying attention to the movie about 30 minutes in you know whats going to happen at the end. All in all i was dissapointed by this movie, if he had flushed the characters out more and made something exciting happen, aswel as double the length of the film it probly would have been one of Zombies best films yet.

      10. Kevin Fraser May 3, 2013 at 9:22 pm

        I agree it could have been a longer movie. I liked the idea and the story line but the movie was too short to explain it all. Over all I like the film it was creepy.

      11. matt May 6, 2013 at 5:37 am

        did not like it at all, was not scary and made me not even pay attention to any of the film. That being said, he could of made it a lot better, i was not captured by the films plot it was all over the place. Anyways, save your self about an hr and 30 minutes and do something useful with your life lol!!

      12. Chels May 7, 2013 at 3:16 am

        I LOVE THIS MOVIE. Gore fests are nice, but they bug me to no end. You actually have to watch and pay attention to this movie, as all the facts and story bits are there if you look. By doing that, it kept me intrigued and anticipating. I also like his take on the Devil himself, not being quite as “human”, but rather a more earthly-looking fellow. (he personally reminded me of a root-person.)

        He also took some hints from Rosemary’s Baby, in that the Witches isolated her until she had Satan’s baby; but did it in such a way that even though it’s the same plot bit, it’s very original.

        Bravo, Rob Zombie!

        • floridapossum May 7, 2013 at 4:43 am

          After much contemplation, I’ve decided, I hated it.